3 Things Your Employees Really Want—But Aren’t Telling You

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Young employees in office

By Aaron Agius

There’s a slew of reasons why employees act the way they do: age, personality, experience, reliance on a paycheck, and so on. As their employer, you do your best to create a healthy work environment that inspires hard-working employees. But are they telling you what they actually want in return for their hard work and loyalty? Do they even know what they want for that matter?

Giving a raise or PTO, putting new sofas in the break room, and adding a cappuccino machine are all nice ideas. However, they’re tending to the symptom and not the root of the issue on how to inspire and keep top-notch employees.

Add the fact that millennials now represent the largest share of our workforce, and we’ve got a lot to talk about. Millennials are changing the workforce—for the better, if not for the hard work to adjust—and what is now valued most needs to be front and center.

I’m not going to lie, the things I mention in this post are abstract, which means they might be a bit more difficult to get your hands on. Signing off on a raise is easy. Committing to these daily strategies? Not always so easy. But trust me here. Raises and break room sofas alike lose their newness fast. The three things your employees actually want last forever.

1. Respect

Your employees want respect. From you, from their fellow co-workers, and even from your customers. Respect says, “I value you as a human—and you have good things to offer here.” It also acknowledges trust.

The most important thing employers can do in regards to respect is to earn it themselves. Be the example of someone earning—not commanding—respect. Display a work ethic and personal life that oozes with integrity. Toss entitlement out the window.

Additionally, the benefits you offer can display respect. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Salesforce, that lead the way in employee satisfaction, show their respect by including benefits that promote a healthy work-life balance. Paid family leave, gym memberships, training on stress and time management are all examples of an employer that recognizes and respects an employee’s time, both inside and outside of the company.

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2. Freedom

Freedom breaks down defensive walls and leads naturally to inspiration. I’m not talking about freedom that hinders employee productivity here; I’m talking about freedom to move, creatively. Freedom to work the way their minds and bodies work.

No one likes a micromanager. Doing things “the way they’ve always been done” is an indicator of a rigid business model—and everyone knows that businesses need to be flexible.

Is your company spreadsheet driven? Allow key employees to make adjustments that make sense. Have you had a Monday morning meeting for as long as you can remember? Allow for change—a Wednesday lunch powwow might just be the ticket for innovative ideas to spring forth.